What Does A Digital Strategist Do?

About a year into my first job in advertising, I decided to change my job title. I updated my email signature, printed up some new business cards and suddenly people started introducing me as a Digital Strategist. It sounded about right for what I wanted to do so I ran with it, not really knowing what a Digital Strategist did at the time.

A few years later, it’s still a tough one to explain to my Mum.

The simplest definition is integrated problem solving through digital efforts. 

It works on a few levels. Firstly, solving marketing problems like increasing awareness or driving leads. Secondly, solving operational problems like making your sales team more efficient or increasing the accuracy of data collection. And thirdly, solving consumer problems, where you start building utilities and products (this doesn’t happen often in agencies).

It is the Digital Strategist’s responsibility to develop these strategic solutions. But just as importantly, it’s also their role to sell it. Not only the need for the work upfront, but the conclusions and recommendations that result as well. Hustling a project through stakeholders, aligned to resources and in cohesion with brand and campaign work is no easy task. The solutions must be integrated, working with the broader business context.

What people tend to find most interesting is that the word campaign has not yet been mentioned. A Digital Strategist does not develop concepts, even for big digital campaigns. Nor do they account manage, write comms plans or plan media.

Instead, Digital Strategists work on programs and projects. Efforts that often sit outside of campaign timelines and budgets, but help a client with their business problems.

This could look like a social program to change brand perceptions. Or a content program to retain customers. Email programs for lead management. Optimisation programs to improve conversion. Monetisation programs to generate revenue for the business.

Or it could look like a project to make a client’s life easier. Or their production budget more efficient. Or in one case we even freed up 100% of an internal resource by automating a process.

The scope of these start to vary incredibly. Yet at its core, digital strategy is solving client problems with technology, done with consideration to the rest of the business. A Digital Strategist sells this and then develops recommendations for potential programs and projects (usually prioritised on a road map).

And that’s sort of what I do. Admittedly it’s still not Mum-friendly.

What do you think?

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